All I Want for Christmas is a New School Board

Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

Since it’s the Christmas season, it’s always good to have a wish or two ready in case Santa gives you a call. If you are a Caddo taxpayer, you can add this to your Christmas list: a brand new slate of Caddo School Board members to be elected next year.” This is not just a Christmas fantasy – it is a possibility.

CPSB-fail01For the past twenty plus years the Caddo School Board has been an absolute failure in performing its mission: providing quality education to all of the residents of Caddo Parish. This twelve member board is the perfect example of democracy at its worst, – with the most critical votes being cast along racial lines. Board districts that ensure six white and six black have resulted in petty politics of the highest degree, with children and taxpayers the ultimate losers.

The Caddo School Board needs statesmen/stateswomen – political leaders who are respected and who are promoters of the public good, not themselves. Presently many board members act as feudal lords – being more concerned about preservation of schools within their districts than the overall good of the entire system. Too many board members are catering to long lost dreams of high school alumni who can only point to history as motivation to keep open the doors of failing schools in deserted neighborhoods.

Coalition needed!
Coalition needed!

An answer to this political stalemate is the formation of a coalition to not only identify prospective candidates, but also to underwrite their campaign expenses. The goal would be to have a progressive candidate in each district race. With some degree of luck, at least eight new members could be elected to the Board.

corporate_blackboardIf this effort succeeds, the School Board should be able to reach a consensus on major issues without the divisive, race driven debates that have fueled most critical decisions in past memory. The most recent example of this futility was the “superintendent selection process,” which included an interim superintendent and then selection of a new leader by default. (The other finalist withdrew his name after a racial tie vote.)

  Rocket_Surgery_SkoolIt does not take a rocket scientist to realize that change is on the way for Caddo public education. The Recovery School District has established a Shreveport office and Caddo has its first charter school, – and more are likely on the way. White flight to Bossier and Desoto Parishes, based in large part on public education choices, is a fact, and there is little prospect of this out migration to cease absent substantial public school improvement.

Yes, a School Board Candidate Coalition can be an answer for parents, teachers, and taxpayers frustrated with the failure of the Caddo Parish School Board. This is not a new idea, but is certainly one worth active consideration. Now, if I can just find Santa to make this wish.